What makes a home a smart home? Who gets to keep the smart lock after a house is sold? What if your real estate agent still has the password to your thermostat?

These are the questions real estate professionals are figuring out on the fly — and questions that are only becoming more relevant for agents and consumers.

Dale Carlton, an Arkansas broker and lawyer, led a small group at Inman Connect New York on Wednesday to consider the effects of smart home technology on real estate.

“The issue used to be, ‘Do the blinds and curtains stay or go?’” Carlton said. “Now, it’s what about the smart home tech?”

The agents and vendors in attendance had already started thinking about these ideas — they mentioned Nest, Savant, Lutron, Google Home and other technology their clients have had.

But the specific legal questions surrounding smart homes were, for many, new territory.

Creating boundaries around these issues is a matter of protecting both the agent and the client.

In some cases, sellers want to get back into their old home to retrieve a security system once they realize it contains more personal information than they thought.

Some agents have to decide whether to market a home as a smart home — and how much technology a house needs to earn the designation. Is an internet-connected thermostat and security system enough?

Carlton said he had a listing where the house ended up selling to his friend. He still had the password to the smart thermostat, so he played a joke and kept turning the thermostat up to 90 degrees. It was a prank, but the example is concerning for buyers and sellers who don’t realize exactly who has access to their home’s technology.

Agents already know that they and their clients are often being monitored during open houses.

The next step is deciding how to incorporate these concerns into the day-to-day.

Agents, sellers and buyers, for example, should come up with checklists of what smart home technology is going and staying before a deal closes. And agents who overhear open house attendees talking about how they’re going to bid somewhere else if the price doesn’t come down should remain skeptical that they’re not trying to negotiate through the Amazon Echo.

Read all of our coverage from Inman Connect NY 2018.

Email Emma Hinchliffe

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription